Pride For Scotland, Smiles For Afghanistan

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Pride for Scotland, smiles for Afghanistan. Afghanistan's hard-hitting top order batters will play a crucial role in the tournament.

Pride For Scotland, Smiles For AfghanistanAfghanistan's hard-hitting top order batters will play a crucial role in the tournament.

The Overview

What does winning in sports mean?

And to whom does it matter – the players on the field or those watching outside?

Is there really anything at stake beyond the result of a victory and a defeat in a few hours of entertainment and skills displayed?

Kyle Coetzer, the Scotland captain, was certain that his in-form team had to move further from the fortunes of its past, where despite good cricket, they had barely won matches in the ICC tournaments. Quite smoothly, the initial target was achieved as they delivered three victories in succession to move to the second round.

Against bigger rivals though, their challenges level up as well. In an environment where the associate nations are being constantly pushed to validate their eligibility for top ICC competitions, Scotland are up against the task of proving their position at the highest level of the world T20 tournament. They are vocal about their aspirations – to erase the hurt of the past, to become the next full member of ICC, to be watched and picked by top T20 franchises around the world.

In order to fulfil those and to make the followers back home ‘proud', they are breaking down their possible challenges – ways to remain fresh in the bio-bubble environment, measures to counter Rashid Khan in their first game of Super 12, and getting their assessment of the conditions spot on.

Afghanistan, on the other hand, don't have as much to prove. They have some of the most sought-after players in the game on their side, and their rapid escalation to the highest level is a stuff of cricket romance. They've surpassed Scotland more than a decade ago, and even reached a point wherein they have qualified directly to the second round of the World Cup, while several other Test teams couldn't.

Their cricketing creds aren't in question. They are out to spread joy in times of despair.

Amidst political upheaval and unrest in their home country, the Afghanistan skipper believes a victory, or even a good performance in the tournament, would give people in Afghanistan ‘a reason to smile'.

“The fans are really waiting for this game because the only happiness in Afghanistan is cricket. If we do well in the tournament and win games, the fans will be really happy and there will be a lot of smiles on faces and insha'Allah everything will change if we do well in the tournament,” said Mohammad Nabi ahead of the Monday contest.

Even as strong passions will drive the motivation for the players, the success for Afghanistan and Scotland would be dictated by the action on the field – the battle between Josh Davey and the Afghanistan openers, a possible duel between George Munsey and Rashid Khan, and the likes.

Within those small passages of entertainment, and the larger result of the contest, will be at stake Scotland's pride and Afghanistan's smiles.

When: Monday, October 25, 2021, 6:00 PM (local time)

Where: Afghanistan vs Scotland, Match 17, Super 12, Group 2, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

What to expect: Even as pitches in Sharjah were slow in the IPL, the fresher one opened up for the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh encounter provided for a high-scoring game. Afghanistan and Ireland are too likely to play on a fresh strip where 170 should be a competitive total.

Head to head: Afghanistan 6 – Scotland 0. However, it's been more than five years since the team last played against each other.

Team Watch

Afghanistan: After scoring ducks in the first warm-up match against South Africa, Afghanistan openers smashed fifties against West Indies on the faster wickets at the ICC Academy. The conditions on the slower Sharjah wickets though would favour their strong spin department.

Tactics and Matchups: With the field restrictions and the new ball, much would depend on Afghanistan's hard-hitting top order – Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad and Rahmanullah Gurbaz – to give Afghanistan a quick start and to put Josh Davey, the highest wicket-taker in the powerplay so far, on the backfoot.

Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi (c), Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Naveen ul Haq, Hamid Hassan


Tactics and Matchups: Richie Berrington has been in good form and his ability to play spin well will hold the key for Scotland in the middle overs.

Probable XI: George Munsey, Kyle Coetzer (c), Matthew Cross (wk), Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Michael Leask, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Josh Davey, Alasdair Evans, Bradley Wheal

Did you know?

What they said:

“It's hugely significant, not just for the team but for the organisation and some of the aspirations that Cricket Scotland have. We want to be the leading associate, and we want to push our case to be the next full member. I think if you look specifically at the way Afghanistan and Ireland did it, they did it from doing well at World Cups, and I think we've now got five great opportunities to go out and show world cricket what this organisation and the team is about. Then for the players, it's a great showcasing opportunity to show some of the Twenty20 skills that this group has and get them out there on the world stage. You never know what sort of opportunities can come on the back of this for some of the players if they have a good group stage.” – Calum Macleod, Scotland batter.

“Everyone back home believes that Afghanistan have the best team for these conditions. And our team is confident. We'll do well in the tournament and insha'Allah we'll move on to the next team. It's really big meaning for this tournament for Afghanistan in this stage (sic)” – Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan captain

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